IFJ calls on UN Human rights Council to protect press freedom in Somalia

The IFJ was at the UN Human Rights Council’s 42nd session in Geneva this week. Together with its affiliate the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) the federation addressed the situation of journalists in Somalia.

Speaking at the Council, NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman said: “Widespread patterns of attacks against journalists and advocates of freedom of expression, unlawful and arbitrary restrictions on access to information continue unabated in several regions of Somalia. Despite this organised suppression of free expression, we have also witnessed resilience and courage, journalists and other media practitioners are refusing to give up, coming together to fight for freedom of expression and independent journalism.”

Osman told the Council that Somali journalists have been systematically and unlawfully prevented from carrying out their journalistic work and providing information to the public. Faced with the threat of human rights abuses, including violations of their right to life, security of person and freedom from arbitrary detention, journalists have been frequently harassed and arrested.

IFJ and NUSOJ welcome the steps taken in persecuting the killer of journalist Abdirisaq Qasim Iman and the sentence handed down to the killer who is a police man. Equally, it is welcome news for the prosecution of the presidential security guards who mistreated journalists and because of this mistreatment they were tried in court. “These are steps taken in tackling the problem of impunity but they are not enough in resolving many murderous crimes against journalists. Somalia is reeling with impunity,” added Osman.

UN Independent Expert on Human Rights Situation, Mr. Bahame Tom Nyanduga said in his speech to the Council: “I wish to commend the Federal Government and the media fraternity, in particular NUSOJ and its trade union partners, FESTU for their decision to positively conclude the case that was pending before the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. My engagements with both parties on this matter was proof of the constructive manner that a UN mandate could bring to assist to resolve an intractable internal matter. I wish to thank them both for their cooperation with the mandate”.

IFJ and NUSOJ commended the efforts of Mr. Bahame Tom Nyanduga for particularly championing the protection and promotion of freedom of association, trade union rights and the implementation of ILO recommendations by Somali government.

IFJ and NUSOJ called on the UN Human Rights Council to urge:

  1. Somali authorities especially those in the regional administrations of Puntland Somaliland to immediately unblock access to websites currently blocked for their critical content and respect the obligation under international law not to impose arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and to protect the right of everyone to seek, receive and share information.
  2. Somali authorities to cease the ongoing harassment of journalists and members of their families and the exploitation of the outdated and draconian criminal law, especially in Somaliland, to prevent journalists from doing their journalistic work and newsmakers from speaking out on issues of public importance.
  1. Federal Government of Somalia to repeal or amend Somalia’s old and outdated criminal law to ensure that it meets international and regional human rights standards on freedom of expression, assembly and association, and take measures to create to create an enabling environment for the exercise of these rights.

Source – IFJ